Tomoka's Alaska mission team returned with stories of blessings, praise and numerous opportunities to share God's love with the people they met while serving with GraceWorks Alaska. Debbi Dansby recalls a few memories of serving alongside fellow members of the Alaska mission team.
It all started on a Mission Trip Weekend at Tomoka, when upcoming mission trip opportunities were being showcased. Images of far away places came to mind during the service - unknown countries, cities, cultures and landscapes. But thoughts of doubt also came to the minds of our team members as they considered signing up for a mission trip that weekend.
"You can't go, you've been divorced. You can't go, you're a sinner. You can't go, you have no money. You can't go, you're no Billy Graham. You can't go, you're busy at work. You can't go, your passport is expired. You can't go, you're just a kid. I bet it's expensive." But the loudest voice we heard was "GO."
We were all intrigued by Alaska! We signed up, met our team and worked together raising funds and praying. Working in the Nations Cafe not only helped us raise funds, but it taught us how to work as a team and overcome hurdles while achieving goals.
Once we were in Alaska, we had a mission to go, love and serve. Equipped with Bible stories, silly songs, face paint and crafts, we were prepared to meet the children we would serve. Our team was one of 11 from across the U.S. assigned to serve in city parks in Anchorage. We provided lunches daily and taught children about God's love and grace for everyone. We met kids between the ages of 3 and 15, who were often at the park alone. They were hungry for food, certainly. But what we noticed most was their hunger for attention and love.
God worked in the children as we ministered to them. We saw a young boy willing to sit and sing praise songs, loud and proud, among other children not willing to do so. We saw young girls willing to sit and talk about their lives, their worries and their prayers. These children met the pastor in their neighborhood and now have a place to go, and grow, when summer missions end.
We left Alaska changed and stronger because of our experiences, maybe even ready to go back. We made lifelong friends in our team and we learned God loves us all despite our messes. We learned we can each be used to share God's love and His story in our own ways.
Learn more about upcoming mission trips at Tomoka here.